The difference between necessary and actual numeracy is what we call the numeracy gap.
Evidence has been mounting for a number of years that many Ontarians, both children and adults, are lacking basic levels of numeracy. We describe this difference – between necessary numeracy and actual numeracy – as a numeracy gap, a gap that needs understanding, explaining and most important of all, closing.
The 2013 OECD survey of adult skills shows more than half of Canadians now scoring below the level required for full participation in a modern technological society, a decline in the level of numeracy from a decade ago.
The College Student Achievement Project, using data from all 24 Ontario colleges, has found that, consistently over the past nine years, more than one-third of all students taking mathematics (over 12,000 every year) are at risk of not completing their college programs due to their weakness in numeracy.
The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) compares the numeracy of 15 year-olds internationally; in this study, Ontario students have shown a steady decline from 2003 to 2012.
Provincial assessments of reading, writing, and mathematics at the Primary (grade 3) and Junior (grade 6) divisions have shown steady increases in reading and writing achievement over the past five years but steady decreases in mathematics achievement over the same period.